Agenda for the Strategy Paper Meeting (SPM): What Is It and How to Prepare It

Agenda for the Strategy Paper Meeting SPM - What Is It and How to Prepare ItBy now you should be familiar with the concept of the File Note and how it helped me increase my closing rate to 9 out of 10 in life insurance sales. I found that the reaction to my file notes was one of people looking forward to our next meeting and how I was planning to deal with their particular situation. I called that meeting my Strategy Paper Meeting (SPM.)

Within the file note that they had previously confirmed, were a number of answers to my questions that highlighted problems to which they were not even aware existed at that time. My dissection process was to draw attention to those questions and their answers in such a simple format that would allow for frank discussion.

So, generally, the format for the SPM would look like this:

  • Highlight the problem.
  • Get their agreement to the problem and that they want it solved.
  • Involve them in the decision-making process.
  • Together, work out the solution to the problems based on budget constraints.

I would like to make two points here:

#1. Financial Advisers, for compliance reasons, are required to make file notes. (At least they are in Australia.) However, in my experience, very few ever forward copies of the file notes to people for confirmation of the details. Quite often, there can be weeks between the two meetings and if the people haven’t taken notes during the initial meeting, then it’s the Adviser’s responsibility to bring them up to speed at the strategy paper meeting. My process of having file notes confirmed, avoided the need for a long preamble to kick off the SPM.

#2. With the two-meeting process, recommendations are often prepared without any agreement in principle in the first instance and with costings that might be well beyond budget constraints. These objections then have to be handled on the spot which, in turn, might need a rewrite of the recommendations and costings, and which in turn will require a further meeting to gain their approval!

In my experience, without agreement in principle in the first instance, the preparation of figures is an absolute waste of time – for both parties!

In preparation for the meeting, I needed to dissect the file note and extract those parts that would fit into my Strategy Paper, utilising my ‘Presentation skills 101’: Reveal the Need/Fix the Problem/Offer the Solution.

Check out Russell Collins’s audio book ‘Skills that Succeed: A communication Guide for Risk-Based Financial Advisers’ – also available in e-book format worldwide or in hard copy format in Australia. In the book, he explains in more details his  ‘Presentation skills 101’ (see chapter 4)

So, in my process I drew a quadrant on a large whiteboard in my office with the following four headings. (You don’t need a whiteboard— you can do the same thing on a pad).

NEED:  problems that need to be addressed

HAVE: existing protection coverage

STRATEGY: working out what is actually required to resolve the situation – bearing in mind budget constraints

HOW TO PRESENT: How to format the presentation

Then as I went through the file note I just extracted information needed under each of the headings. The whiteboard made it easier for me to stand back and visualise everything together rather than treating each quadrant separately.

So, to demonstrate an actual dissection based on the following case details:

45-year-old married male – let’s call him Bill; two children aged 8 and 11; homemaker spouse; salary $200,000 gross per annum; mortgage $400,000; personal life insurance $300,000, group life insurance $500,000 and pension fund $200,000.

The purpose of the Strategy Paper in relation to this case example is just to determine the amount of life insurance required.

Let’s assume the following details and being extracted from the file note:

  • In the event of his death Bill wants the mortgage to be paid out.
  • Current protection program – $300,000 personal life insurance; $500,000 group life insurance; $200,000 pension fund.
  • In the event of his death Bill wants his family’s current standard of living to continue – estimates they would require $100,000 net per annum.
  • In relation to the mortgage and continuity of his family’s lifestyle, Bill quietly feels that his protection program is adequate.

Note that, from your experience, it would obviously appear that the protection program might not be enough, but remember that now is not the time to go into mathematical calculations about any shortfall. Why? Because this could lead to a debate/objection and severely interrupt the flow of the meeting.

Coming back to the quadrants: at this stage I have the following information:

QUADRANT #1 (Reveal the Need i.e., what is required?


Pay out mortgage $400,000
Gtd. Family income –$100,000 net p.a. Capital required?
TOTAL $????????

QUADRANT #2 (Fix the Problem i.e., existing coverage)


Personal Life Insurance $300,000
Group life insurance $500,000
Pension Fund  $200,000
TOTAL $1,000,000

QUADRANT #3 (Offer the Solution – strategy)

STRATEGY (Budget constraints*)

Capital required (mortgage +Gtd. Family income) $????????
Capital available $1,000,000
Shortfall $????????

*Budget constraints: Affordability – I always worked within the limits of budget constraints. Where there is a shortfall, meeting the shortfall is one thing but being able to afford it will always depend on budget constraints. I found the best time to discuss budget constraints was after I had gotten through the actual strategy paper presentation, up to the point of discussing the shortfall with them. In other words, first using the strategy paper to create a situation where they agreed to what they needed, and then for me to ascertain their budget constraints.

QUADRANT #4 (How to present?   – Presentation skills 101)

  • Reveal the Need – NEED
  • Fix the problem – HAVE
  • Offer the solution – ALWAYS TWO SOLUTIONS (theirs and yours)

In my next guest blog post here, I will bring the 4 quadrants together and format an actual presentation, the use of which enabled me to increase my closing rates to 9 out of 10.

Tap into the 40+ years of experience Russell Collins shares in his book on the importance of developing communication skills which people will both understand and act upon; skills that will enable you to achieve an extraordinary level of success and will give you the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.

Skills that Succeed - Book by Russell Collins

Order your audio book copy today!

Available also in e-book format worldwide or in hard copy format in Australia. See available formats.


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